Greater Glasgow has the most profound life expectancy divide in the UK, says world health experts.

A boy born in the deprived inner city area of Calton, Glasgow, can expect to live to 54 years compared with a boy born in the nearby suburb of Lenzie, who can expect to live to 82, according to a three-year study by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The sharp divide is the most pronounced of any UK city-region.

Previous statistics have shown that people living in the Calton ward have the lowest life expectancy in Europe.

The WHO research, carried out by a group of policy-makers and academics, including economist Amartya Sen, looked at health inequalities in countries including Australia and Uganda. The report says that “social injustice is killing people on a grand scale”.

It says a “toxic combination of bad policies, economics, and politics” is largely responsible for the fact that “a majority of people in the world do not enjoy the good health that is biologically possible”.

The report calls for “unprecedented leadership” to compel those in the health sector and beyond to prioritise health inequality because “health systems will not naturally gravitate towards equality”.

Sir Michael Marmot, chair of the research group, said: “Central to our recommendations is creating the conditions for people to be empowered, to have freedom to lead flourishing lives … this would dramatically improve the health and life chances of billions of people.”

A separate report, by the End Child Poverty campaign group, shows that children born into poverty have 7oz lower average birth weight, are 10 times more likely to die suddenly in infancy, and two times more likely to suffer from asthma than children born in more affluent areas. It also says that adults raised in poverty are 50 per cent more likely to suffer from chronic heart disease than those from more affluent households.

A third study, by healthcare information firm Dr Foster Research, shows that areas with the highest number of obese people in the UK include southern Scotland, the North-East of England, the Midlands, and most of Wales. There are also areas of high prevalence in the far South-East and South-West of England.

– Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health, Intergenerational Links Between Child Poverty and Poor Health in the UK, and Weighing Up the Burden of Obesity are available via